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uses for a personal domain

Even if you’re not a fan of blogging and don’t have an amazing new website to launch, a personal domain can be an awesome tool to own for fun or self promotion: from a customized start page with your favourite services accessible in one click anywhere in the world, to a full on CV or résumé showcasing your talent.

Today I’ve gathered together tons of fantastic ideas for what to do with a personal domain.

Buying Your Domain

Of course, you know about .com domains, but did you know about .me ? The .me domain is technically the country-code top level domain (ccTLD) for Montenegro, but it’s found a niche for personal websites and can be purchased by anyone; GoDaddy is currently selling them for less than $10. This is the only cost for using many of the services I’ve listed below, though for some you will require your own hosting too, or a premium upgrade for use with a custom domain.

Host Your Own Website At Home

Using the free DynDNS service, you can point that domain to your public IP address; Justin wrote a ful guide on how to set up the router side of this Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Read More ; you’ll also need to install some kind of web server (typically a specialised linux distro) on a spare PC, a virtual machine, or as an application on your desktop.

Make Your Own Start Page

Most browsers now have the ability to show you a selection of your most visited websites, but for a more attractive and customizable start page consider a static and easily editable site such as Estacado  or StartPage.rwt  – both require no code knowledge, but must be hosted somewhere.

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uses for a personal domain

Virtual Business Card

personal domain ideas

Nancy covered quite a few virtual business card services 4+ Easy Ways to Create A Virtual Business Card 4+ Easy Ways to Create A Virtual Business Card Read More before, but my favourite is Flavors.me Flavorsme - Create Your Own Free Personalized Webpage Flavorsme - Create Your Own Free Personalized Webpage Read More for it’s sheer simplicity, though using your own custom domain does require a premium $20/year account.

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If you have hosting, consider the simple but free Digital Business Card WordPress theme; you can also a run a full blog there, too.

Virtual CV or Résumé

One step up from a pithy little virtual business card, a full web CV will soon be commonplace as the world migrates it’s entire conciousness to an interconnected online entity. Stay ahead of the crowd so you needn’t be laughed at when you offer potential employers a paper copy.

Angela wrote about re.vu earlier this year, a visual résumé service that uses your LinkedIn profile to automatic generate the relevant graphics. The results are pretty stunning, and of course completely customizable.

personal domain ideas

Unfortunately, there’s no option to host on a custom domain, so for now your only recourse is to redirect your personal domain to re.vu. Visualize.me is a similar service, but not quite as slick in my opinion.

personal domain ideas

Your Own Customized Email Address

If you have control of the server where your domain is located (such as a MediaTemple Virtual Private Server The Various Forms Of Website Hosting Explained [Technology Explained] The Various Forms Of Website Hosting Explained [Technology Explained] Read More ), you can use the standard CPanel or Plesk to set up as many unique email addresses as you want – including a catch-all. Catch-all means that any emails sent to any address at the domain that aren’t specifically set up already will just be forwarded to the address you set. You could use this just like a GMail alias for spam protection, or perhaps for giving out personalized email addresses to contacts (“thecuteguyyoumetinthebarwascallled@jamesbruce.me, anyone?)

Google Apps

Even if you don’t have hosting, you can still install Google Apps – the free version allows up to ten users to have full access to all the Google Services you specify including Gmail. For more information on this, I recommend our free PDF guide to Google Apps DOWNLOAD Go Google: Free Email & More On Your Domain DOWNLOAD Go Google: Free Email & More On Your Domain Read More .

Setting up Google Apps is quite a daunting process, but really not difficult. You simply need to edit the CNAME and MX records for your domain – found in the DNS Manager of wherever you purchased the domain. These are simply pointers that tell services communicating on your domain where to route things; web services, or email, being the most well known ones.

how to use a domain name

In the case of GoDaddy, enter the configuration screen for the domain, and click DNS Manager. Just click the quick add button for new entries, or edit existing ones. Follow the instructions careful, and be sure to wait 24 hours for changes to be live.

In fact, to just configure the MX records for GMail, you can use the GoDaddy GMail wizard here.

Custom URL “Shortener”

This may be a little pointless if you have a long name, but provided you also have some hosting setup with MySql and PHP capabilities, you are free to set up your own URL shortening service using YOURLS. Simon wrote a full guide to this before How To Turn A Personal Domain Into Your Own Personalized Link Shortener How To Turn A Personal Domain Into Your Own Personalized Link Shortener Link shorteners are a dime a dozen. Even Google and StumbleUpon have joined the fray, because a shortened URL doesn't just look good. They also go a long way to improving the usability of links.... Read More , so I’ll just point you there and be on my merry way.

how to use a domain name

Note that if you have Google Apps set up, you can install an app specifically for the task of URL shortening How To Make Short URL's on Your Domain with Google Apps How To Make Short URL's on Your Domain with Google Apps Read More without needing any hosting.

Setup Your Own Web Proxy

School filtering systems getting you down? Tired of the dictatorship UK government blocking your PirateBays? Set up your own proxy, then laugh in their Orwellian faces as you float around untethered on internet waves of freedom.

uses for a personal domain

Again, this will require your own hosting, and again, Simon has you covered: read his full tutorial here How To Create Your Own Online Proxy Server In Minutes How To Create Your Own Online Proxy Server In Minutes Read More .

Do you think we missed something? What’s your favourite way to use a personal domain?

  1. Paolo Maffezzoli
    December 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Interesting article, I suggest to update the Google Apps section, now this service is no loger available for free.

  2. Jane
    October 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    .me is the best choice to make your cv site! I bought my one on http://domaintyper.com/
    Very easy to use this Domain Name Search Tool!

  3. GrrGrrr
    September 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks James, nice read

  4. (mt) Matt
    September 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Great guide on getting things started, and we appreciate the mention for email hosting! The (dv) is definitely a great option for hosting your personal email. You can send out as much email as you'd like, and you could even host your websites on there if email isn't taking up a bulk of the space. Feel free to contact us through Twitter, Facebook, or my personal email if you all have any questions.

  5. Patrick Jackson
    September 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

    3 things that I would do if I buy my own domain:

    1. Set up a fan club (about myself of course!),
    2. Open a discussion board (on how great am I!), and
    3. Allow donations (so that I could buy new gizmos in order to 'emancipate' myself with the rest of the tech world!)

    Isn't it great, eh?

    Just kidding! ;)

    Whatever, again great job!

  6. Mitesh Budhabhatti
    September 6, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Great article James !! Thanks

  7. Darren Reynolds
    September 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

    This site never fails to please... Always good informative articles to read and digest :)

  8. Frederick Doe
    September 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    If you have email accounts at your custom domain (which Google Apps will give you for free), you can get 50GB free space on Box.com. Box assumes that you're a business and offers you free storage (but not a full business membership).

    • muotechguy
      September 6, 2012 at 7:37 am

      Oooh, nice tip Frederick, thanks!

  9. Scott
    September 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    FWIW, Namecheap is also a good domain registrar and they have an easy shortcut for setting up the domain with Google Apps.

    Regarding tlds, what would be your advice for someone wanting to buy a personal domain: .com or .me ? For the average Joe/Jane who may only want the domain for, say, hosting email with Google Apps (or Zoho or whatever), what are the pros and cons of each tld (besides .me being cheaper and .com being better for businesses) ?

    • muotechguy
      September 6, 2012 at 7:41 am

      .com is actually cheaper marginally, but me is on sale at the moment and would normally be about half the price.

      The SEO part of me wants to say that .com is going to rank better, but thats just instinct and I dont have anything to back that up.

      The popularity of .me is mainly due to the fact that an awful lot of .coms for your name will likely already be taken, so .me just gives you another chance. Of course, if you just want the vanity URL you can always go with any TLD really - org, net etc are also relatively unused. There is no rule that says you CANT have a different TLD if you want it

      If you're not worried about SEO and really just want a personal domain, I would go with .me; bearing in mind it's normally twice the price of a .com.

      Really, not much to choose between the two.

      • Scott
        September 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

        Thanks for the comments, James ! :-)

    • Patrick Jackson
      September 6, 2012 at 11:23 am

      @Scott, you know the main focus is on having a domain on your name instead on setting up a business.

      Also, if one wants to start business later on, better buy a separate domain from the same registrar (maybe you might get some discount!) and include that on your resume in the home page of your 'main' domain (if have one).

      What say?

      • Scott
        September 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

        Good points !

  10. xbalesx
    September 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Agreed, claim your own name is cool...and most hosting programs give you tons of email addresses...we have 17 family members using the email access with the account.

  11. dohRG
    September 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Registering your name does have its benefits just by existing and you owning it.

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